The Rise of the New Islamic Empire (Caliphate) in Iraq

ISIS has declared a new Islamic state carved out of Iraq and Syria from Aleppo to Diyala and only 100 miles from Baghdad. To do so, the used their blitzkrieg tactics causing hysteria and panic among thousands of citizens and routing four divisions of the Iraqi army. That is a significant feat.

Significant because at most is they only have 10,000 fighters spread from Aleppo to Diyala and perhaps not more than 5000 in Iraq.

Unlike previous hardcore measures when ISIS captures territory, where they they are brutal and their tactics alienated the local population, they now are winning the hearts and minds. This tactic is old, used by the French in Vietnam, then the US in Vietnam. Instead of being brutal in their victory, they rebuild or build infrastructure, like roads, schools, etc., they restore law and order with a much softer and tolerant touch. When Mosul fell, the locals thought their brutality of banning music, enforcing attire, etc., would occur immediately. But that is not the case-yet.

ISIS is still in winning the hearts and minds stage, for without winning the locals, their conquest will be made much more difficult to hold onto. Just ask the French or Americans. Flushed with huge amounts of cash from the millions stolen from the Iraqi bank in Mosul, they are buying support. Local businesses find ISIS a very well paying customer for goods and food. For instance, ISIS bought some ice cream from a vendor costing a few dollars but paid $100 for it. They highly pay former Iraqi officers to help conquer Mosul and other Sunni tribes in the area.

All this indicates the ISIS for the people and locals are happy, paid, inhabitants. The locals in Mosul compare this to the untrustworthy and dishonest Iraqi troops that once were suppose to defend them. The Shiite iraqi army often were ruthless with Sunni populations there demanding bribes and money. Insults from them cut deep. ISIS is Sunni, so Mosul seems to be tranquil. ISIS is even gaining support from many Maliki haters from former Baathists and tribal leaders.

But, as former inhabitants have said, ISIS is in the honeymoon stage. They want to provide electricity, food, medical and other needs to win them over. After a period of time, they begin to enforce the rules of dress for women. First, the hijab (head scarf), then the niqab (the whole body). Soon, their true colors will show and the local population will acquiesce.

As Iraqi forces gather their weapons and will to fight, would ISIS survive? Only 5000 of them are in Iraq, scattered. They have mostly light weapons. Even the Su-25's Iraqi received from Russia could do serious disruptions. There are still another 10 divisions in the Iraqi army, that if could be reliable, would easily smash ISIS. ISIS will come under attack more in the Aleppo area as the Free Syrian Army ramps up with US help.

ISIS' conquest reminds me of the Italian conquest of parts of North Africa in 1940-1, they simply lack the strength to hold onto what they have when confronted with real military force. The question is, is there such a force in Iraq?


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